A Recipe for Connection

Published: February 7, 2024

Whenever two or more people come together, they share something. Connections between humans – of any size and shape – are each woven together with common threads.

  • A partnership is formed to share direction.
  • A friendship is fueled by shared interests.
  • A marriage is anchored by a shared commitment.
  • A family creates a shared history.
  • A group works toward a shared goal.
  • A team shares a common vision.
  • An organization is driven by a shared mission.
  • A community coalesces around shared values.

What does your connection share? Is it interests, commitment, or history? Is it direction, goals, mission, or values?  When you evaluate your friendship, marriage, family, group, team, organization, or community wellness, are the connections healthy?

To get to the answer of ‘yes,’ the following ingredients to the recipe of relationship wellness must be true.

Unconditional positive regard: Connection begins with respect and understanding – of both similarities and differences. Consider what would need to be true to make your partner’s choices make sense.

Freedom to collaborate: Trust is the fuel for partnership. Assume a need for interdependence, whether the stakes are high or low. Everyone’s action impacts everyone else.

Appetite for growth: Change can spiral upward or downward. Downward is easier because its cause is simple neglect. The decision to grow a connection equates to an investment of energy.

Resilience during adversity: Humans are fragile and human connections are vulnerable. The ability to heal is more important than never getting injured. Recovery results in strengthening.

Give some thought to the many forms of connection that happen every day, week, month, and year. Once you prune the options down to a critical mass of relationships that most matter in your life, devise a strategy to grow each connection. What is the common thread you each share?

Photo of Steve Ritter, the co-founder of The Center for Team Excellence

Steve Ritter

Steve Ritter is an internationally recognized expert on team dynamics whose clients include Fortune 500 companies, professional sports teams, and many educational organizations. He is on the faculty of the Center for Professional Excellence at Elmhurst University where he earned the President's Award for Excellence in Teaching. Steve is the former Senior Vice President, Director of Human Resources at Leaders Bank, named the #1 Best Place to Work in Illinois in 2006 and winner of the American Psychological Association's Psychologically Healthy Workplace Award in 2010. Steve provides ongoing workplace culture consultation to many thriving companies including Kraft Foods, Advocate Health Care, Kellogg's, the Chicago White Sox, AthletiCo, and Northwestern Mutual Financial Network.